Wednesday, September 02, 2015

'Small Organizations with Big Hearts' Receive Newman's Own Awards

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, September 2, 2015 — The work of private organizations is critical in supporting the nation's veterans and their families, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today during the 2015 Newman's Own Awards ceremony at the Pentagon.

Taking care of service members and their families is "such an incredibly large task that it really does take an extraordinary public-private partnership," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said during the event, in which five organizations each received a grant of $30,000, and one organization was gifted $50,000.

The awards are sponsored by Newman's Own, Fisher House Foundation, and Military Times.

The support from private groups is so important for veterans and their families because commitments of the military are going up, while budgets are shrinking, the chairman said. "We're just going to have to help each other as Americans," Dempsey added.

The effort, he said, is to make sure "we not only get the job done," but also that public-private partnerships continue to exist to help the men and women who have served.

"America's sons and daughters who keep raising their right hand even though they know exactly what they are getting into"  are one of the great blessings of the United States, Dempsey told the groups being recognized, adding that they are a blessing to the nation as well.

The needs of veterans and their families often exist in the "cracks and the seams" of services that already exist, said Jeffrey Smith, vice president of operations at Newman's Own. The organizations being recognized "captured the spirit of what we mean and why we go about all profits for charity," he said.

Foundations Provide Funds for Grants

Newman's Own, founded by the late actor Paul Newman, donates all profits and royalties from its food products to Newman's Own Foundation, which supports charities around the world. The Fisher House matches the grants, bringing the total to $200,000 being awarded annually, according to Ken Fisher, Fisher House Foundation’s chairman and CEO.

"These awards are given to small organizations with big hearts at the grassroots level that are doing so many things to help our military, our veterans and their families," Fisher said.

Since the annual awards competition began in 1999, more than $1 million in grants have been awarded, he said.

"The Newman's Own program epitomizes the strong belief I have that no one entity -- be it [the Defense Department, the Veterans Affairs Department] or the Fisher House Foundation itself -- can meet all the needs of our military veterans and their families," Fisher said. "It takes a team of dedicated, patriotic and caring people."

$50,000 Award

Dana Katz accepted the $50,000 award on behalf of UCLA Operation Mend, a public-private partnership that connects military resources with surgical and medical specialists to help wounded post-9/11 service members.

"It is our deep honor to take care of these men and women who we serve and their families. They come to us and they spend a lot of time with us and we love them," she said. "We really need each other to do this work."

Katz’s mother-in-law and father-in-law started the group in 2007. The idea was born after her in-laws visited the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Katz said they thought about "what we should be doing as private citizens to make a difference in the lives of these men and women who've done so much for us."

Katz said she was grateful to be at the ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, a room where the names of all the Medal of Honor of recipients are listed.

"I had no idea what it would feel like to be here in this place with this group of people receiving this kind of award on behalf of Operation Mend," she said.

The organizations that received $30,000 each were:

Zero Day Innovation Center, Zero Day Inc., Dewitt, Michigan

Zero Day provides training and support services for veterans toward their attainment of a self-sufficient and independent lifestyle, including a plan for life’s basic needs including employment, housing, transportation and health care. It provides services and training including accredited vocational training, life skills mentoring, and licensed therapy support.

Adaptive Vans Award Program, Helping Our Military Heroes, Easton, Connecticut

Help our Military Heroes provides fully equipped, adaptive minivans to the country’s most severely wounded, injured, and ill service men and women who suffered their injuries while on active duty since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began.

Kids’ Club, Southwestern Illinois College Foundation, Belleville, Illinois

Recognizing that veterans’ benefits may not be sufficient to cover child care costs for nontraditional students, Southwestern Illinois College and Kids’ Club will provide free child care services for military parents who are enrolled in college. There are also family events and access to free tutoring.

Tech for Troops Project, Richmond, Virginia

Tech For Troops Project provides refurbished computers to veterans, enabling them to connect with employers and develop critical computer skills. Veterans receive free computers through other local nonprofit organizations that partner with Tech For Troops Project in central Virginia. Tech For Troops Project hires veteran to support the growing demand of recipients and provides technical training to local veterans.

A Home for Healing, Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, Bozeman, Montana

Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation serves the nation's traumatically combat-injured from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and active service members experiencing challenges with mental health, relationships, transitioning to civilian life, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus Names Virginia-Class Submarine

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus hosted a ship-naming ceremony today in Ames, Iowa to announce that SSN 797, a Virginia-class attack submarine, will bear the name USS Iowa.

The submarine will be named to honor the history its namesake state has with the Navy.  Iowa is home to former Naval Air Station (NAS) Ottumwa, one of a few air training stations created to increase the number of trained pilots in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The future USS Iowa will be the fourth naval vessel to bear the name. The first, a 3,200 ton gunboat, dates back to 1864. The second was commissioned in 1897 and is best known for its initial spotting of Spanish ships off the coast of Cuba and the resulting first shot fired during the Spanish American War's Battle of Santiago. The third Iowa (BB 61) was commissioned in 1943 and earned 11 battle stars - nine for World War II and two for the Korean War -  for  campaigns in places from the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Rota, Okinawa, the Philippines and North Korea. After returning from combat, Iowa served the remainder of her days running training cruises and operational exercises before being decommissioned in 1958. It was then re-commissioned in 1984 to help expand the size of the Fleet during the Cold War and then decommissioned a final time in 1990.

Virginia-class attack submarines provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

These submarines have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.

Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The submarine will be built under a unique teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division wherein both companies build certain portions of each submarine and then alternate deliveries. Iowa will be delivered by GDEB located in Groton, Connecticut.

First operational F-35As arrive at Hill AFB

by Micah Garbarino
75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

9/2/2015 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Air Force ushered in a new era of combat air power today as Hill Air Force Base received the service's first two operational F-35As.

Hill's active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing will be the first combat-coded units to fly and maintain the Air Force's newest fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

"Make no mistake, we're built for this. We will deliver the combat capability that our nation so desperately needs to meet tomorrow's threats," 388th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brad Lyons told the gathered crowd of Airmen and community members.

Lyons, who flew one of the F-35s to Hill from Lockheed Martin's production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, highlighted the jets stealth ability, advanced technology, avionics and sensor fusion, which allow pilots the flexibility to operate in "contested threat environments" and strike "tough to reach" targets.

Hill has been called the "ideal home" for the F-35 because of its proximity to the Utah Test and Training Range and Hill's Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which performs F-35 depot maintenance and modifications. The integration of the active duty and reserve fighter wings provides increased flexibility and combat surge capability.

"This is a great day in the history of Hill Air Force Base. We have to have these aircraft to achieve air dominance in the future for the United States," said Col. Bryan Radliff, 419th Fighter Wing commander. "We are extremely proud to be a part of this association."

Since the basing announcement in 2013, Hill has spent more than $120 million and completed numerous demolition and construction projects to prepare for F-35 operations.

"The reason we're here today is because of our Airmen, civilians, contractors and outstanding community who stood behind us 100 percent," said Col. Ron Jolly, 75th Air Base Wing commander. "We know the capabilities of this aircraft. We are on the cutting edge and we're very proud to be a part of that cutting edge."

The 388th and 419th Fighter wings were also the first units in the Air Force to fly combat-coded F-16s when they entered fleet.

The wings will receive one to two F-35s per month until 72 aircraft have been delivered.

Airmen at Hill are eager to get their hands on the new jet and work toward combat readiness said Lt. Col. Darrin Dronoff, chief of F-35 program integration office for the 388 FW.

Both the 388th and 419th have trained F-35 pilots ready to begin flying the new jets, and there are more pilots and maintainers currently in training.

The wings will take a week to familiarize themselves with the aircraft, receive parts and begin tracking the aircraft in a maintenance database.

"The plan is to start flying after Labor Day. We'll start by flying twice a week, but that will slowly progress as we receive more aircraft and training progresses," said Dronoff.

While flying won't start for a week, training for maintainers starts immediately - including the Airmen who will be towing the first aircraft from the ramp to the hanger, Dronoff said.

"Everyone touching the aircraft is a formally trained F-35 Airman - hand-selected crews from pilots to maintainers to back-shop people," said Dronoff. "But, we're also training Airmen brand new to the F-35. We're taking every training opportunity because this is the first time many of them have had their hands on an F-35."

The base will hold a formal ceremony to welcome the F-35 in mid-October.

Kingsley Field Airmen activated to help with state wild fires

by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/1/2015 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- As wildfires threaten to consume forests and homes around the state of Oregon, 55 Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing have volunteered to fight the blazes.

The volunteers traveled north to Salem Aug. 25, where they began firefighting training at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

"It's my home state, and right now it's seen better times," said Staff Sgt. Corey Lingren, one of the volunteers from the 173rd Fighter Wing.  "I figured why not help out the community and fight some fires."

The volunteers' role will consist of providing support to the wild land firefighters with clean up, putting out hotspots, and providing assistance wherever they are needed said Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Elliott, one of the 55 volunteers.

"You've got a team of people who don't know how to fail and we will be very successful at whatever we do," Elliott added.

These Airmen are part of the additional 250 Oregon National Guard members activated by Governor Kate Brown. They will be joining 125 Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers who began training, Aug. 22.

This response is part of the Oregon National Guard's ongoing agreement with the Oregon Department of Forestry known as Operation Plan Smokey.

More than 400 Oregon Guardsmen are currently devoted to assisting first responders and incident commanders for Oregon's firefighting season.

National Preparedness Month kicks off

by Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

9/2/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Americans are encouraged to prepare and plan for natural and man-made disasters this September as the Federal Emergency Management Agency celebrates National Preparedness Month and kicks off the America's PrepareAthon! campaign.

The campaign focuses on a different emergency planning message each week throughout the month. The Schriever Emergency Management office has tailored the campaign to meet the specific needs of the base, removing the focus on hurricanes and power outages and replacing them with tornadoes and active shooter themes.

"[We're here] to make sure the base is prepared to handle any disaster, man-made or natural," said Senior Airman La Kirsten Burton, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management specialist. "We're here so everyone can be prepared. Some people may not know what to do."

The five-week campaign will focus on creating emergency plans for floods, wildfires, tornadoes, active shooters and winter weather.

"You do different things in a tornado than a fire," said Staff Sgt. Ramon Trejo, 50 CES NCOIC readiness and emergency management. "Practice what you do in each situation and who you'd call if need be."

While each disaster has its own method of preparation, two common factors are to have an emergency plan and put together an emergency kit.

"We tell people to have three days' worth of supplies to include water, canned goods, a can opener, flashlight and extra batteries, portable radio with extra batteries and any prescription medications," Burton said. "Keep the supply kit where you can easily grab it and be out the door or take it to your shelter location."

According to, some other items to include in an emergency kit are a first aid kit, whistle, local maps, cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger, wrench or pliers and moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

In addition to having an emergency kit supplied and easily accessible, having a plan, both for evacuation and communication, is another critical element to preparedness. AP! Preparedness guides suggest considering the "Five Ps of Evacuation" when making an evacuation plan. The Five Ps of Evacuation include people, prescriptions, papers, personal needs and priceless items.

Burton said families should plan both what they're going to take with them, as well as evacuations.

"Ensure kids know the primary and alternate location," Burton said.

Part of the evacuation plan should also include having a contact, preferably one who lives out-of-state, to be called in case the family is unable to evacuate together, says. Additionally, kids should have ready access to the contact numbers for emergency services.

"[Kids] need to know the contact numbers of emergency services and other relatives," she said. "Keep it on the fridge so they know where to get them."

Because the amount of time families will have to evacuate can vary based on the disaster, they should be sure to know and practice their evacuation plan, Burton said.

"Practice your plan. [Evacuation notice] can be as short as five to 10 minutes," Burton said. "During the Waldo Canyon Fire, they had five to 10 minutes to get their stuff and get out of the house."

Operation That's My Dress hits Las Vegas

by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Win Public Affairs

8/31/2015 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada --
For many women, the daily grind of military life can sometimes take its toll, leaving some feeling like they could use a day to get pampered; however, looking like a million bucks often comes at a cost not everyone can afford.

But that is where the Las Vegas USO has stepped in, providing a day of appreciation for the women who sacrifice every day.

More than 800 Nellis and Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, active-duty females, spouses, and teenage daughters were treated like royalty as they participated in the 2015 Operation That's My Dress event Aug. 29-30, 2015.

"This event was astonishing," said Col. James Chittenden, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander. "It was beyond any of our Airmen and their families' wildest dreams."

About 1,500 dresses valued between $450 and $1,200, were available for ladies to choose from, and each participant was allowed to take one dress home for free.

The day's event began with complementary hair and makeup sessions in preparation for the main event.

"The USO brought the New York runway to the families of Nellis and Creech," said Chittenden. "It was great to see all the smiling faces walking around."

Airmen and their families were wowed by the USO Show Troupe as they performed a song and dance routine while 25 Miss USA and Miss Teen USA titleholders modeled a selection of dresses donated by designer Sherri Hill, the event's primary sponsor.

After the show, participants were assigned numbers for dress selection and partnered with one of the pageant contestants, where they then received fashion advice and had help picking out a dress.

"It was really cool to have her [Miss USA] help me pick a dress," said Paulina Hernandez, 15, stepdaughter of Staff Sgt. Armando Irizary, 820th Red Horse Squadron, Nellis AFB.

The day served as a huge thank-you from local sponsors, and it was also an opportunity for families and members to meet people facing similar situations.

"It was really cool to see women of every rank from airman first class to commanders' wives here enjoying the event," said Kate Slawski, USO Las Vegas program director. "Especially for our Creech families, we had women carpooling and making new friends, which is important when these women need a support system."

In addition to the moms and daughters in attendance, dads were welcomed too. The event also featured U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, Medal of Honor recipient.

"This is my second time doing this incredible event, and I'm always so impressed with everyone," said Olivia Jordan, 2015 Miss USA. "These service women and the families are American heroes and deserve to be treated as such."

Slawski said the event is another way to remind military families that they always have the support of the USO.

40 years of Red Flag ends on high note

by Airman 1st Class Jake Carter
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/31/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- From its inception in 1975, Red Flag exercises have tested military members' combat capabilities in air, space and cyberspace. Red Flag 15-4, which concluded here Aug.28, will close out the 40th anniversary of Red Flag.

Col. Jeffrey Weed, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander, expressed his enthusiasm for the cohesion created between foreign allies and the U.S.

"I'm really impressed with the integration of foreign countries (for Red Flag 15-4)," Weed said. "There is tremendous integration on their part when they come," Weed said. "Also, this is the second time we've had Virtual Flag as part of Red Flag as well."

Weed was also impressed with what U.S. forces were able to accomplish together during the exercise.

"Working with foreign countries has been a collective partnership," Weed said. "There has also been great training with our sister service Marine and Navy members. We had ground forces stay out in the field for the entire exercise and have had the broadest jamming capabilities from the Navy ever."

Joel Reed, a graphics artist assigned to the 414th CTS, has noticed the change in Red Flag and integration since the very beginning of Red Flag in 1975 when he was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base as a uniformed Airman, and from 1992 when he became a civilian employee at the 414th CTS.

"The scope of the training for integrating has exploded," Reed said. "The training use to be fighter-oriented but now it encompasses all of the Air Force domains. The feedback from past participants has been outstanding and one pilot who went on a deployment said he would have been lost without the Red Flag training but with it, it had made integrating with other countries a breeze."

With Red Flag training Airmen and other individuals in the air, space and cyberspace domain, every Red Flag exercise brings in players that are new to the exercise.

"Some of the differences from Red Flag are the different set of partners that we have come out each time," Weed said. "For every Red Flag, we usually have a quarter or a third amount of people who are new players and there might have been even more than that for Red Flag 15-4."

During Red Flag exercises, it is common to see foreign counterparts participating in the exercise, but with the 2016 Red Flags, countries who haven't been to Red Flag in quite some time will make an appearance.

"For next year, Red Flag will be similar to this year with four exercises occurring," Weed said. "For the second and fourth Red Flag, we will be including foreign players which include the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Spain."

With integrating being a large part of Red Flag exercises, Weed noticed that learning and teamwork is what can make a Red Flag exercise successful.

"Learning is one of the biggest things you notice when Red Flag is over," Weed said. "With the U.S. and foreign countries, the biggest thing is learning or teamwork."

With Weed retiring in the near future, he has complete confidence in his successor that he will be able to keep the mission going effectively.

"Red Flag 15-4 will be my last Red Flag," Weed said. "A good friend of mine, Col. Greg Marzolf,  Colorado State University Detachment 90, Air Force ROTC training program commander, will be the new Red Flag commander, but this will be his fourth tour at Nellis and I believe he will do great."

The Eagle has Landed: F-15 Eagle finds new home

by Airman 1st Class Dustin Mullen
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/1/2015 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Force aircraft that can no longer be flown are usually sent to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Those lucky enough to avoid this fate, may get the chance to become training tools or static displays to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Tyndall has been working hand-in-hand with Hanley Technical Center in Panama City, Florida, to move a retired F-15C Eagle from Tyndall to the school. The F-15 will be used for training students on aircraft repairs and maintenance.

According to the Haney website, their mission is to provide educational opportunities for all students and the training necessary to meet the needs and standards of today's changing global workplace. Haney is a Federal Aviation Administration certified school. Students with this certification can use it all over the world.

"This is really a win-win for both Haney and the Air Force." said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Fenger, 325th Maintenance Group chief. "Haney gets a really high tech piece of machinery that they can use to train their students and Tyndall gets to free up valuable space to be utilized for other aircraft."

Although the aircraft now calls Haney home, the Air Force is still its owner.

"The jet is essentially on loan," Fenger said. "If Haney comes to a point where they no longer need the jet, then we will take it back and find a new place to put it."

Loaning the jet is not a process that is done often. Usually when the Air Force is done with an aircraft it is sent to the boneyard or it is de-militarized, meaning they would cut the wings and vertical stabilizers and remove all military components, said Fenger.

"It took a long time to figure out the process of giving the jet to a civilian school," Fenger said.

After simply getting the paperwork done, one of the most challenging parts of relocating the aircraft to the school is the move itself.

"The school is located about 15 miles from Tyndall," said Fenger. "Moving it created a lot of logistic complications."
The F-15 has a large wingspan that made transporting it through the city challenging.

Power lines had to be lifted, some signs needed to be taken down and traffic had to be diverted and halted in some areas of the city as the jet passed through.

In order to make the move easier, first crew members removed the wing tips and the tops of the vertical stabilizers. They also removed any sensitive and hazardous components including weapon systems, ejection seats and radar equipment.

"We had a bunch of our students come out to help ready the jet," said Dennis Harper, an instructor with the school.

Harper was also in the Air Force and an F-15 crew chief at Tyndall. In fact, he was a crew chief for this exact aircraft, and has now been reunited with it.